November is probably the most crowded month for Harvard kids. We start referring to our iCals with growing frequency, trying to fit every single activity (including eating and sleeping) into a 24-hour matrix that feels far too small. I mean, Free Time is never a readily available commodity on campus, but it goes completely out of stock in November. The shelves of Free Time are empty, and the Free Time vendors just shrug their shoulders and say, “Come back next month, and we might have more in stock.” So I’ve learned that sometimes, during the most crammed weeks of the semester, you’ve gotta steal your Free Time – seize any hours of freedom that you can find!
In that spirit, I rode the T into Boston on Thursday night, to see the Blue Scholars perform at the Paradise Rock Club. The Blue Scholars are a dynamic musical duo from Seattle, makin’ smart folk hip-hop since 2002. Sabzi is an Iranian DJ/producer, and Geologic is a Filipino rapper – and together, the dudes are pure magic. The Blue Scholars use their music to treat relevant societal/generational issues, and I admire the intentionality manifest in their art. Here’s one of my favorite songs by them, Cinemetropolis, the title track from their new LP:
I was lucky enough to attend another nourishing event this weekend (one that filled my tummy and my heart). On Saturday, the Harvard African Students Association held its annual Fall Feast, which is always one of the best events of the semester. Students and groups of various African affiliations lend their time and talents to recreate classic dishes from their home countries. The array was stunning – jollof rice, stews, curries, shawarma, corn-mush, chicken, samosas, plantains – and by the time we got halfway down the line, our plates were spilling over with African delicacies. We had to go finish our first plates before we could sample the second half of the buffet. It was a true celebration, and everyone jokingly heralded their hometown food as “the winning dish.” All the proceeds from the event went to buy food for Somali refugee camps, so they were selling these sweet T-shirts:
I felt kind of weird buying a shirt that said “Fight the Famine” while surrounded by such bounty. But I think that’s the strange tension that many of us live with, especially as Americans. We should still enjoy and appreciate things like parties and good food, knowing that they’re undeserved riches; but at the same time, we gotta stay keenly aware of the areas of great need that are sometimes starkly juxtaposed to our own comfortable situations. It’s a complicated dynamic, and one that I haven’t totally come to terms with yet. I could only be grateful for my blessings while I chowed down on hometown chapatis for the second time this month. In honor of that unlikely statistic, here’s the official Chapati song by the Kenyan artist Man Ingwe: